Pre-employment screening tests are a common way for employers to assess the technical skills of the applicants. It helps companies check if the applicant can truly apply the technical skills that have been mentioned on her resume. It is also a convenient way to distinguish between two applicants whose profiles are similar in all other aspects.
This intent, though, gets defeated if candidates use unfair means to score well on such aptitude tests. There are scores of posts on the internet that hiring managers have made about their experiences with this problem. The applicant who cheats on technical proficiency tests is likely to be unable to do a good job in an actual project scenario, which puts the employer at risk of losing its reputation or even the contract itself.
Additionally, such dubious means could also mean that a deserving candidate gets left out during the selection process.
Applicants for technical roles are expected to possess above-average intelligence. What is not so good about this is if that intellect is used to gain an unfair advantage in the assessment process.
Let us look at the common ways of cheating on online screening tests.
List of ways candidates cheat in screening tests
There are a number of creative ways that are being used to cheat, and here are the most common among them:
- The login credentials needed for the test are shared with another person who then logs in and takes the test. The expectation while doing this is that the substitute or proxy examinee is more proficient and has a better chance of clearing the assessment.
- The candidate manipulates the test software either by tampering with the question timers or retaking the test multiple times within the time provided.
- Like the example quoted above, there are several websites where answers to some of the standard coding questions can be found. Some candidates copy their answers from such sources instead of solving the questions themselves.
- There are situations when the same questions, or similar ones, get repeated by the company instead of refreshing the questions for every test. This can sometimes result in the questions being passed on by friends and acquaintances who have been assessed before.
- Some candidates make a video/phone call to a more proficient friend while taking the test to get the right answers.
The need for proctoring software solutions
In recent years, especially after the pandemic changed the way we work and live, it might not always be feasible for employers to invite applicants physically to a single location for the technical assessment.
Additionally, with companies having to recruit on an ongoing basis throughout the year, many or most questions might keep getting repeated.
A convenient and effective solution to the problem of cheating in technical assessments is the use of proctoring software for online supervision during the test.
A good proctoring software can use artificial intelligence to prevent unfair practices, thus presenting all applicants with a level playing field. This ensures that genuinely skilled candidates get selected.
Let us understand the different ways in which proctoring software helps prevent cheating.
Proctoring software is a close replication of an invigilator being physically present near an examinee during a test. These are some of the common ways used by these tools:
- Complete screen sharing of the applicant, so that all opened tabs are visible. The problem with this is that the examinee might still use other devices for opening other websites or resources.
- Use of video monitoring using a webcam. This gives an almost complete view of the applicant during the test, so activities like the use of other devices, physically moving elsewhere, or speaking to someone else on the phone or in person. There is usually a facility to video record such instances or at least take a screenshot.
- External copy-paste functions are often disabled to prevent applicants from using resources from websites opened on other tabs during the taste.
- Some tools allow logging on to a new tab but keep a log of it and allow a certain maximum number of times. This is required because some tests might need applicants to refer to theoretical sources.
- Another way to control proceedings with a reasonable amount of flexibility is to allow a certain number of violations after which the test ends automatically. This usually has a built-in feature of a warning message popping up every time the tool detects a violation.
The ideal way to combat unethical means during an assessment is by having unique questions for every test. This might be difficult for employers who have huge hiring volumes for different roles. In such cases, proctoring software is the ideal solution that can ensure that there are no unfair practices. Several reputed companies provide high-quality proctoring software which can be tailored to suit specific needs.
COGBEE is an AI-enabled smart and collaborative candidate screening and interviewing platform. Its intelligent screening mechanism enables talent acquisition teams to comprehensively conduct the entire recruiting process.